Reader’s Letter: I ate Flipper (and went to SeaWorld)

POSTED: 05/22/11 5:09 PM

Dear Editor,

I have been following the discussion on the building of a Dolphinarium. The local papers and Facebook are abuzz with it. Now comes my terrible confession: I have eaten dolphin steak, yes, dolphin … flipper—not mahi-mahi. And to compound my crime, I own up to visiting Sea World. 

I once worked as a commercial fisherman. In fact, I owned a fishing boat. We were docked in a small port in Brittany, France, when the deep-sea fleet came in. The fishermen, against all the rules, would harpoon a dolphin while on their way home. It had been a tradition for years. Maybe they still do, I don’t know. I hope not. Anyway, one of the fishermen was a friend and he invited us to dinner where we were served dolphin steaks. The steaks, thick, red and rare, were lovingly cooked by his wife and served in our honor.

 Before Dolphin Defenders start baying at my door, I should say that this happened many years ago. Both experiences left me with a deep feeling of unease. Since those days, I have sailed thousands of miles. Crossed the Atlantic a few times – alone and with crew – sailed the Mediterranean, cruised the Bahamas, US eastern seaboard and the Caribbean. On those voyages, I learned about dolphins and what it is to be free.

For dolphins the ocean, in all its moods, is home. They dance in the wild waters of the storm and are at peace in the calms. At night, beneath a million stars, I have seen them cutting through the phosphorescence like torpedoes, leaving a trail of diamonds in their wake. Below, tucked up in my bunk, a thousand miles from land, I have heard their song. Once, while in the cockpit, a mother brought her calf to look at this stranger from another world. I leaned over the gunwale and watched as she swam alongside. Keeping herself between the boat and her calf, she rolled and looked into my eyes. She did this several times and then sped away. That night, in my loneliness, I cried.

 I have come to realize that, like half-cooked broccoli in overpriced restaurants, visits to Sea World and dolphin steaks, we can be coerced into accepting just about anything. Dolphins must remain free. St. Maarten does not need a dolphin circus. St. Maarten and its people are better than that. Don’t let them force this through. Say no to the Dolphinarium.

For more information or to sign a petition against the building of a Dolphinarium in St. Maarten, visit:

 Gary E. Brown

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